By Jessica Martini
TIMONIUM, MD – The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale opened Monday in Timonium with the specter of uncertainty in the industry caused by the pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on the global economy hanging over all participants, but the session was punctuated by vibrant bidding across the board and concluded with a sparkling 20% buy-back rate. A colt by Uncle Mo brought the day's highest price when selling to Michael Lund Peterson for $1.1 million.
“I don't think anybody really knew what to expect, including us,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning admitted at the close of business Monday. “I thought today was tremendous, exceptional and reassuring. If you didn't observe the activity in the pavilion with the masks and the seats marked off and signs on the floors that say social distancing and so forth, it seemed very similar to what we experienced in 2019 here and in past years.”
At the end of the session, 152 juveniles had sold for $12,632,500. The average was $83,109 and the median was $40,000. Of the 274 horses catalogued Monday, 190 went through the sales ring and 38 were reported not sold.
Last year's opening session, held under markedly different circumstances, saw 156 horses sell for $11,402,500. The session average was $73,093 and the median was $43,000. The buy-back rate was 25.7%.
“I am astonished at a 20% RNA rate today and I am going to hope and pray it is in that range tomorrow, but there was certainly activity at most every level, including some at the lower end, and the middle was stronger than I would have anticipated coming into the sale,” Browning said. “I'm not saying it's easy or a walk in the park, there is still polarization that exists in the market, but we had a market today. And I think you could see it and feel it if you were in the pavilion or bidding online. I am very encouraged by the resiliency of the participants in the Thoroughbred industry in the sales side and the racing side. It never ceases to amaze me and today was another example of that.”
Monday marked Fasig-Tipton's first foray into online bidding and Browning reported seven horses were purchased online and there was bidding on a further 30 to 40 horses throughout the day.
“It was very seamless,” Browning said of the online bidding process. “We are working with professionals in that regard and they did a really good job. And our auctioneers have experience in other markets of selling stuff on line and I thought they handled it very well. We would have had between 40 and 50 horses that people bid on out of 190 through the ring. That's pretty encouraging activity.”
The Midlantic sale continues with a final session Tuesday with bidding beginning at 11 a.m.
Petersen Makes Big Splash Again
Michael Lund Petersen, who went to a record-setting $1.8 million to acquire future Grade I winner Gamine (Into Mischief) at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale, struck again Monday in Timonium, bidding $1.1 million to acquire a colt by Uncle Mo (hip 118) from Al Pike's consignment. Bloodstock agents Steve Young and Marette Farrell, bidding on behalf of Speedway Stable, were among the underbidders on the colt who shared the furlong bullet of :10 flat at last week's under-tack preview. The colt, like Gamine and Petersen's former graded winner Mucho Gusto, will be trained by Bob Baffert.
“Of course it's very exciting to buy a horse for that amount of money, but most importantly I am excited because Bob is excited,” Petersen said. “He was excited about buying Gamine, he was excited about buying Mucho Gusto. I'm just happy I am part of an unbelievable team. I am fortunate that I am.”
Petersen and bloodstock agent Donato Lanni did their bidding out back of the pavilion. Lanni compared the juvenile to another colt currently trained by Baffert.
“He looks very similar to a horse we have now called Uncle Chuck,” Lanni said. “He's kind of a similar-looking Uncle Mo.”
Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, Uncle Chuck aired by seven lengths in his June 12 debut at Santa Anita.
Hip 118 is out of Miss Ocean City (Indian Charlie) and is a half-brother to graded stakes winner Azar (Scat Daddy).
“He's a horse that Bob is going to take his time with,” Lanni said.
Lanni admitted his biggest concern was his owner getting to the sale in time Monday.
“We're happy for Michael. This is his sale-he lives in Baltimore,” Lanni said. “It was only a 10-minute drive for him, but I saw there were a bunch of outs and I called him and told him to hurry up. He said, 'Don't worry about it.'”
Of the colt's seven-figure price tag, Lanni said. “He's a good horse and everybody saw that and that's what the good ones cost. Horses like that are so hard to find and they are very rare. You just have to stretch a bit more to get them.”
For his part, Petersen admitted it was tough bidding that high.
“Last year was a lot worse,” he said with a laugh. “Somebody asked me what it is like to buy the most expensive horse and I said, 'It sucks.' It's not actually that much of a thrill, I would like to buy the least expensive horse. But obviously I am excited having Gamine. It's fun being in horse racing right now.”
Petersen has six horses in training at the moment. He purchased two juveniles at the recent OBS Spring Sale, going to to $700,000 to acquire a colt by Not This Time (hip 1283) and to $375,000 for a colt by Twirling Candy (hip 1226).
Petersen credited the private sale of his multiple graded stakes winner Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man), purchased for $625,000 at the 2018 Midlantic sale, with his bullish bidding at recent juvenile sales.
“I bought two down in Ocala only because I sold Mucho Gusto,” he said. “A prince [Faisal bin Khaled Abdulaziz] came and he asked if he was for sale and I said no, but he kept coming back. And eventually Bob said sell him. I am lucky to have the best horse trainer in the world and I am not making myself believe just because I've been successful in something else I know what I am doing here. I am humble about being part of the team and I follow what they say and it's been going pretty good so far. So that's what I intend to do.”
Gamine, who romped by 18 3/4 lengths in the June 20 GI Acorn S., worked four furlongs at Santa Anita Monday morning.
“She breezed today and Bob said she was happy and did really, really well. That was the text message I got,” Petersen said. “Where she is going next, I don't know. I think Bob doesn't necessarily make plans. He lets the horse talk to him. If she looks like she is ready to go, he will let her go. Everybody wants to know if she will go to the Derby. Gamine will tell us if it's going to be the Oaks or the Derby. I am happy either way.”
SF Bloodstock signed the ticket at $450,000 on Miss Ocean City with the Uncle Mo colt in utero at the 2017 Keeneland November sale. The juvenile was bred in Virginia by William Backer Revocable Trust.
Al Pike purchased the colt privately after he RNA'd for $185,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale. Following the juvenile's bullet work last week, Pike said yearling consignor Frank Taylor had convinced him to buy the colt
“I guess I owe him dinner at Malones,” Pike said following the seven-figure sale Monday. “Frank took me over and said, 'I think this is a really good horse and you'll be happy with him.' And bless his heart, he was right. He's been a special horse since we got him. Hopefully we will be seeing him at the big races. He's in good hands.”
Carlisle Busy Bidding for Tramontin
Greg Tramontin, founder and CEO of GoAuto Insurance, enjoyed his first-ever Grade I success as co-owner of the June 20 GI Woody Stephens S. winner No Parole (Violence) and added a pair of high-priced juveniles to his stable Monday. Bidding on behalf of the Louisiana owner, bloodstock agent Lauren Carlisle kicked the auction into high gear with the $500,000 purchase of a filly by Into Mischief (hip 4) from the consignment of Hoby and Layna Kight and returned later in the session to secure a colt by Not This Time (hip 213) for $650,000 from the Classic Bloodstock consignment. Both will be trained, like No Parole, by Tom Amoss.
“We have tried on some other horses at some other sales and haven't gotten lucky,” Carlisle said. “We bought yearlings last year and we are trying to get more involved.”
Of Tramontin's racing stable, Carlisle added, “We have two 2-year-olds, No Parole, and some horses in Louisiana. We bought a 2-year-old at OBS March in partnership with Maggi Moss and we bought the two today. And I'm not done yet. I'll be here all day tomorrow.”
Hip 213, who worked a furlong in :10 1/5 last week, is out of Sanctissima (Indian Charlie). He was purchased by Classic Bloodstock's Danzel Brendemuehl on behalf of Lambe Bloodstock for $40,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling Sale.
“We thought he might be a little higher than that, but I'm delighted that he is getting a good home,” Brendemuehl said. “For me, that horse breathes other air and he's a bargain at that price. In the right hands, we will see him next May and in the Breeders' Cup and every big race. He's that kind. He shows up every day.”
Hip 4, who worked a quarter-mile at last week's under-tack preview in :21 3/5, is out of graded placed Global Hottie (Dixie Chatter).
“I loved everything about her,” Carlisle said. “We wanted to buy a nice filly and I think we did.”
As for the youngster's price just three hips into the two-day auction, Carlisle said, “For an Into Mischief, that's not bad. Especially compared to last year.”
The bay filly was purchased by the Kights for $150,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.
“She was a good filly and did everything right,” Hoby Kight said. “She vetted good, worked good and trained well. I hope to see her in Saratoga.”
Kight admitted he had been surprised to be able to purchase the filly last fall.
“I really wanted to buy something by that sire and it's just hard,” he said. “She was big and stretchy. I couldn't believe I bought her actually. She was kind of big and pretty then, too. Maybe there were a lot of them through the days and she just slipped through.”
The Kights have had success selling at the Midlantic sale, but usually send their horses north with the Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds consignment. Of hip 4's placement in the Maryland auction, Kight explained, “[Fasig President] Boyd [Browning] told me when he came to look at my horses to go to Miami, 'Just bring one to Maryland that you wanted to take to Miami and I promise you you'll be rewarded.' And it worked.”
Upstart Filly Rewards Frommer
Cary Frommer is annually a busy shopper at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling Sale and the horsewoman was rewarded for her efforts when selling a filly by first-crop sire Upstart (hip 173) for $400,000 Monday in Timonium. Frommer had purchased the dark bay for $120,000 as a yearling. Nick Sallusto and Hanzly Albina, bidding on the phone, purchased the filly, who shared last week's bullet furlong breeze time of :10 flat, Monday.
“As soon as I saw her, I fell in love with her,” Frommer said of the juvenile. “I thought she was the epitome of a beautiful filly, elegant, long and scopey and athletic.”
Bred in Maryland by Dark Hollow Farm, hip 173 is out of stakes winner Plum (Pure Prize).
The filly was the co-sixth-highest priced yearling at last year's Midlantic yearling sale and was one of 15 individuals Frommer signed for at the auction.
“I do find it surprising and I'd like to keep it a secret,” Frommer said of her success buying out of the auction. “Every year, that's where I buy my best horses.”
As much faith as she had in the filly, Frommer did admit she had concerns over the uncertainties in the market caused by the global pandemic.
“Obviously, everything is imploding,” she said. “I felt like we had the goods with her, but I didn't know if it would be appreciated in this world today. So I am very happy with the price.”
Sackatoga Strikes for Tonalist Filly
Sackatoga Stable, on the Triple Crown trail again with GI Belmont S. winner Tiz the Law (Constitution), purchased a filly by Tonalist for $290,000 early in Monday's first session of the Midlantic sale. The juvenile (hip 27) was consigned by Kirkwood Stables and, like the Belmont winner and Sackatoga's 2003 GI Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, is a New York-bred.
“[Sackatoga operating manager] Jack Knowlton just uses New York-breds. That's all he does,” said trainer Barclay Tagg.
“She's a very attractive filly,” Tagg said. “I liked everything about her when I went over and watched her here for a couple of days. We didn't want to spend that much money, but I think she'll be worth it.”
Asked if Tiz the Law's exploits made the partnership more likely to bid higher than they might normally do, Tagg smiled and said, “Maybe he gave them a little more money.”
Of the Belmont winner, Tagg added, “He's doing well, very well. He came out of his last race great and we're very pleased with him.”
Speightster Colt Turned Back, Joins Baffert Barn
A colt by Speightster (hip 1312), purchased by Larry Best for $1.1 million at the OBS Spring Sale, has been returned to previous owner Solana Beach Sales and has joined the Southern California barn of trainer Bob Baffert.
“Larry Best purchased the colt and after the sale he sent him to Taylor Made,” explained consignor Tom McCrocklin. “I discussed post-sale management of the colt with Frank Taylor because he was not familiar with the horse and I was. And I think they chose to pull his back shoes and put him in a paddock for a post-sale rest. We sold the colt on a Friday and on day seven, at 2 in the afternoon, I got a call that they had put him in a paddock and he was cribbing on a fence board. We made every attempt with Larry Best to resolve the issue. We offered him a discount and at the end of the day, he chose to pass on the horse.”
McCrocklin continued, “We were devastated and disappointed. But the people who own the horse were happy to keep him and we sent him to Bob Baffert.”
Solana Beach Sales is the pinhooking division of the Little Red Feather racing partnerships. McCrocklin purchased the colt on behalf of the partnership for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred Sale last year.
“There were a lot of moving parts of people wanting to stay in and people wanting to get out,” McCrocklin said. “But at the end of the day, they were really excited to have the horse. We feel like we have never had a horse of that caliber and they were happy to keep him.”